It is Saturday afternoon and a long queue of vehicles is standing at the gates of Medyka, one of the southernmost border posts. between Poland and Ukraine. The GPS warns that, to travel two kilometers, it will take at least 17 minutes. Most of them are cars and vans of Poles who come to pick up Ukrainian refugees.
Suddenly, a siren tells cars to pull over for a military convoy escorted by police. They are one, two, three… and so on up to twenty trucks of the Polish army. They enter at full speed in Ukrainian territory. A scene that contrasts with those of the previous days, when what was accessed was essentially humanitarian aid.
30 minutes from there, heading north, is the pass of Korzczowa. Towards that point, through secondary roads, another military truck is heading. On this occasion he travels alone and without an escort, but he carries a tank as visible cargo in his box.
A scene similar to that of Medyka can be seen on Sunday morning on the outskirts of Dorohusk, the busiest northern border crossing for refugees. Another Polish military convoy, escorted at the beginning and end by two police cars, enters Ukrainian territory. In this case, it is a dozen military trucks that cross the border without stopping, before the astonished gaze of the refugees who have just arrived on Polish soil.
Hrebenne, Dorohusk, Dołhobyczów, Zosin, Korzczowa and Medyka. They are the names of the main crossings of the 526 km long border that separates Poland from Ukraine. And in all of them two unprecedented trends are observed in the last few hours. The first, the increase in military troops of the Polish Army. The second, the difficulties that humanitarian entities are encountering to enter and send their aid.
Military pressure has intensified in recent hours in the border areas. More and more vehicles of the Polish army enter Ukrainian territory. Not even the Polish volunteers themselves know how to explain why more and more trucks from their country’s armed forces are crossing into the neighboring country.
The passing of the military is timidly cheered on by the recently arrived Ukrainian exiles. They trust that it is military aid, while they show videos on their mobile phones in which they are observed totally devastated ukrainian villages by attacks by Russian forces. Houses burned, buildings destroyed and roads littered with debris from the explosions. “I hope so, that it is finally military aid & rdquor ;, wishes Lena, a 26-year-old Ukrainian who has just arrived in Poland with her sister-in-law and her nephew.
If on the one hand the military presence increases, on the other it begins to limit the passage of NGOs offering humanitarian aid across the border. Because, although a million and a half Ukrainians have already left the country according to the United Nations, the queues to leave Ukraine continue to be kilometers long. In the last few days, the waiting time seemed to have been reduced, but the refugees who arrive assure that it becomes endless again.
One of the most heavily staffed entities on the Dorohusk border is Caritas. Álex, a 42-year-old Argentine resident in Gdansk (Poland), used to cross to the other side every day. There he distributed groceries among the people he expected and tried to identify critical cases. People who are sick or in need of urgent help.
“I haven’t had a problem on any of the previous days. They already knew me at customs, because I’m the only Argentine helping here and I’m wearing the Caritas uniform. But this morning (Sunday 6) I have tried to cross like every day and they have not allowed me. They told me that an attack was expected from Belarus and that they were limiting the passage of civilian personnel & rdquor ;, he tells EL PERIÓDICO DE ESPAÑA, a newspaper that belongs to the same group as EL PERIÓDICO.
“The situation is getting complicated. Not only have they banned me. There are many Ukrainians who try to pass daily merchandise for their compatriots trying to get out. They have never had problems, because they go in vans identified as humanitarian aid. But this morning they haven’t let them pass either. They are limiting the transit of the entire civilian population. Everyone expects something bad & rdquor ;, she concludes.
USA goes into action
As tensions grow on the border, the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, has indicated to the press during a visit to Moldova that he is “actively analyzing & rdquor; the question of whether Poland can provide planes to Ukraine and how the United States could complete the shipment if Poland finally decides to send them.
Blinken has not given any clues about when these air forces could enter the fray, but the arrival could be imminent: “I can’t talk about the timeline, but I can tell you that we are very, very actively analyzing it,” he concluded.